Assisted Living or In-Home Care?

Author: Marie Gulen

| Posted on: May,19 | Viewed: 2559 times

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Sometimes, the right choice isn't always the easiest one. This couldn't be more true than with elder care. Choosing between assisted living and care at home is the inevitable crossroads at which families often find themselves, and the decision is anything but cut and dry.

There are a number of things to consider when preparing for yourself or helping someone take that next major step in their life to assisted living. Consider the following questions prior to touring assisted living communities. What are their healthcare needs and physical abilities or disabilities? Can they afford independent living or is it more feasible to live in shared senior housing? What kind of family assistance do they have?

Below are some helpful tips to guide you and your elderly loved one toward a positive new beginning in assisted living. 

Compassion through Communication.
Growing older can be a scary and unsettling, yet unavoidable transition. A lot changes as we age. Children leave the nest, we retire from our jobs, a spouse may fall ill or pass away, or our own health may need attention. These life events require us all to come to grips with reality and understand our needs. The only way to move forward to a happier and fulfilling place is through communication - communication with family members, friends and caretakers. Sweeping the matter under the rug will only create more distress down the line. While a senior may hate the idea of being placed in an assisted living community, if they require more and more care, this can put a strain on the family and relationships. Discuss these concerns and weigh all the options together, so that you may make an informed decision when it comes time to decide on an assisted living community. 

Assessing the Options.
It's easy to understand that many seniors would rather live out their golden years at home than in an assisted living community. It's a comfortable, private and familiar place. However, depending on the circumstances, an assisted living community may be the smarter alternative to receiving home care. Just keep in mind that not all senior assisted living facilities are created equal. Some provide resort-like amenities, such as retirement residences, while others focus on health care and health management, like skilled nursing facilities. There are major differences in cost, as well. And, the move will most likely be to smaller quarters. This means the bulk of what has been collected over the years, such as furnishings, mementos and other personal effects, will have to be left behind. This can be one of the most difficult and traumatic aspects of leaving your home for assisted living, for each item may carry significant meaning and letting go means life is changing in a big way.  

But, don't say goodbye to the idea of staying put, either. Depending on what you or your elderly family member requires, aging at home might win out. If you need only occasional care, at-home assistance would allow you to avoid uprooting your life. If the house is paid off and it's easy to get around, all the better. However, one major pitfall to staying at home is isolation. Don't allow socialization skills to atrophy. Staying engaged with family and friends is just as important as staying physically healthy.

Research.
Perhaps one of the most important steps to choosing assisted living is research. If you think an assisted living community is the way to go, the first step is to visit one. Talk to current residents and get a feel for how they enjoy living there. Check the community's track record. While many assisted living communities work very hard to provide a safe, enjoyable and healthy environment, there are some that slip through the cracks and fail at looking out for their residents' best interests.
Cost is another major factor. Assisted living is not cheap, but may actually be easier on the budget than staying at home because various programs like Social Security, Medicaid and insurance may cover some of the costs. On the other hand, living at home requires regular upkeep, which can add up and be an unnecessary hassle. If 24-hour care or supervision is needed, in-home care can be much more expensive than an assisted living community that offers the same care, along with meals and other care services and amenities. Also, each assisted living community differs in what kind of activities they provide, both physical and intellectual, as well as amenities like housekeeping and transportation, nutrition, fitness and socialization.

Another thing to keep in mind is that people and times have changed. As baby boomers enter retirement age, a certain lifestyle they've been accustomed to will greatly influence where they end up. There are more assisted living options now than ever before, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. 
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